Toyota officials warn against premature dumping of conventional cars to EVs


Electric vehicle (EV) charging is gaining momentum in many parts of the world, with several manufacturers scrambling to offer their first models or expand their lineup of battery-powered mobility options. From bicycles to two-wheelers and cars, the adoption rate of such vehicles is gradually increasing, and traditional internal combustion engine powered vehicles are feeling the proverbial heat. But prematurely confining fossil fuel-powered vehicles to the pages of history has no real impact on how the world travels.

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Updated on:
May 18, 2023 at 12:41 am

The Toyota bZ4X at the 2023 Auto Expo.

A top Toyota scientist has expressed concern about abandoning internal combustion engine-powered vehicles too soon, saying the electric vehicle industry may not be able to cope with the ensuing increase in demand for battery-powered mobility options. Gill Pratt, Toyota’s chief scientist, recently told reporters in Japan that it will be a long time before the materials needed for electric vehicles reach the levels needed in a world where electric vehicles predominate.

Toyota has been relatively slow to kick-start its EV program, even though it was one of the first companies to have an EV in its portfolio — the Prius. But while the Japanese auto giant showed off its bZ4X electric SUV, it’s adamant that hybrids are a viable stepping stone. “Eventually, resource constraints will end, but we won’t have enough battery materials and renewable charging resources for pure BEV solutions for many years,” Pratt said. Battery materials and renewable charging infrastructure will eventually become plentiful. But battery material mines, renewable energy generation facilities, transmission lines and seasonal energy storage will take decades to scale up. “

Toyota is the world’s largest automaker in terms of sales. But its tepid pace in electric vehicles has given rivals such as Tesla a head start. Instead, the company has been emphasizing the need to have a diverse product portfolio, even dabbling in fuel cell technology. Now, the company aims to sell 1.5 million all-electric vehicles a year by 2026, backed by 10 new all-electric models.

It remains to be seen whether the much-needed EV push comes at the expense of conventional and hybrid models, or whether Toyota will continue to push to diversify its product portfolio.

First published date: May 18, 2023 at 12:41pm CST

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